In the book, The Difference Maker, John Maxwell states that, “Attitude isn’t everything, but it is one thing that can make a difference in your life.” He goes on to say that while attitude isn’t everything, for we must also maintain some competence, it is the difference maker. I see this on a daily basis in my office. Some people come in and have given up before they even start on a healthy path. I may be talking to a chronic pain patient that has suffered for a decade with pain and discomfort. When we begin to identify the benefits of changing their diet from a pro-inflammatory diet to an anti-inflammatory diet, many times the first words I hear are, “There’s no way I can do that!”
I have been in practice long enough to accurately predict the compliant versus the non-compliant patients. The bigger the complaint the smaller the compliant. Okay, so I know that sentence is not grammatically correct, but look at it. You change one little thing…the placement of the “i”…and you change a whole lot of things! I have seen patients come in so sick, tired and frustrated but determined to get better at whatever the cost. These are the ones that I when I show them the same anti-inflammatory diet they exclaim, “You mean I can eat all this! I can do this!” They spend time educating themselves, they learn to read labels, they learn what questions to ask and they are diligent. The biggest difference? They get better…much better.
So what attitude are you starting with? Can you survey your situation and identify the fact that your attitude may be hindering you from following sound clinical advice and experiencing the optimal health you are seeking? Are you willing to change your self-talk and rather than saying “can’t” begin to positively reinforce yourself with “I can” or “I will”?
The attitude you take towards your own health really will be the difference maker. It will determine whether you are healthy and vital or sick and feeble. The small things in life really do add up to big changes. So start today by making small changes in your attitude. Ian Smith, MD in his book, Happy, provides three great places you could start by improving your attitude. Now he didn’t name these activities, but this is how I remember to incorporate these things into my life.
(1) The rocking chair test – when life presents you with options (anything from the family vacation to the meal you are going to cook) consider yourself decades down the road, seated on your front porch, rocking in your rocking chair. Will the decision you make now cause you to have regrets or disappointments while sitting in that rocking chair? Or will the decision be a decision that causes you to reminisce with a smile forming on your lips? The healthy choices you make now will help you still be around to sit in that rocking chair!
(2) Gratitude Five – journaling is a great daily exercise for your frontal lobes and it becomes a great exercise in attitude when you simply recount and write down five things you are thankful for. Do this simple exercise every single day. It might be the last thing you do as you reflect on the day’s events. Just make the time to do this!
(3) Tremendous Three – in that same journal with your gratitude five, make a list of three things that went well. Three items in your day that are positive and you are pleased with yourself on how you performed. It is so easy to beat up ourselves at the end of the day, but try to change that into something positive. Stop focusing on the failures, but learn to look at the good things…the things that went right.
We can’t control the wind, but we can control our sails. This old saying reminds us that there are some things in life we have no control over, but there is something very important we can control and that is our attitude. Why don’t you start those three simple exercises today, do them for a month and then maybe comment back on this blog post on the improvements you’ve noted in your life.